Formal and informal online learning spaces have evolved into important sources of knowledge that are accessible to many, require limited mobility, and provide ubiquitous learning opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has led to a major jump in the increase of online learning to make learning available, accessible, and possible to the diverse learner population globally. Reducing the gender divide in access to knowledge and information has been the goal of many initiatives, and understanding how access has evolved and improved women’s opportunities to learn and be empowered is key to analyze the changing society. Women are empowered when they have access to learning and access is enhanced through the use of formal and informal online learning spaces and programs. With the knowledge gained, women’s capability is boosted with informed choices, active roles in the workforce, advancement in academics, and increased participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Online learning can encourage and motivate women to actively participate in social or cultural movements as well as modify their roles as childbearers, caregivers, and home managers. Women empowerment and gender equality has been the focus of research for decades, but with the rise and availability of ubiquitous learning possibilities, women empowerment through the utilization of online learning opportunities is becoming an area that has much need for understanding. In the past, women were more passive about their marginalized position in society. However, women in the 21st century are more aware and active, and are disrupting their marginalized status with their increased use of digital spaces and online learning possibilities. They explore different sources of knowledge and information and join in different online education opportunities for formal and informal learning. Women not only empower themselves with the exploration of online resources but also others when they teach online, actively share information on social media, and participate in online discussion forums.
Nina Yssel, Kristie Speirs Neumeister, and Virginia Burney
Twice-exceptional (2e) students demonstrate both high ability and a disability. With their unique combination of advanced abilities and academic challenges, 2e learners do not fit neatly into a single category and often tend to get lost in the system. In spite of the fact that 2e students have been estimated to make up 2–9% of students with disabilities, they often remain unidentified due to the masking effect, in which one exceptionality masks the other, as well as their remarkable ability to compensate for areas of weakness. Once identified, programming presents challenges; for example, remediation may become the focus and the learner’s strengths ignored. In addition to providing enrichment and remediation, teachers have to consider the social-emotional needs of 2e students and how they learn. Problems with time management, organizational, and study skills not only result in frustration for students, parents, and teachers but also have a direct effect on 2e students’ academic performance. These students are characterized by a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, and programming should include support in their areas of need and validation of their strengths. When both exceptionalities are addressed successfully, 2e learners can reach their full potential.